Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Fog Descends

At the end of another productive day of writing, I wanted to talk about something that has plagued me for a while early in my writing career, and that's the idea of the "brain fog."

The brain fog is that feeling at the end of a day of writing when you think "I can't possibly write another word."  It feels a bit like my brain has turned to mush; I have trouble focusing on the task at hand, and thinking up any kind of coherent or witty happenings or dialogue.

During the football season, I became quite well-acquainted with the brain fog on Tuesday nights, usually around the 3,500 word mark of my Power Rankings columns. Of course, the rankings didn't care that I was feeling a bit foggy; they needed to be done.  After all, I couldn't in good conscious file a "NFL Power Rankings, 32-10" column.

No, you learn to soldier on and steer through the fog, sometimes not having any kind of a clue where you're headed.  Ideas come a bit more slowly initially, as you struggle to stay on some kind of path.

This is normally the point in the blog where I make some kind of comment like, "but then sometimes a funny thing happens, and you discover that the fog led you to (insert life-altering realization)."

Not today, folks.

The fog just plain sucks. I hate that it reduces the quality of my work, and I know that I'll just have to go back and "punch up" that section written under the influence of fog at a later date, which frustrates me even more, leaving me foggier, and...well...you get the idea.

Unfortunately, the fog is directly at odds with yesterday's post about picking up the pace an maximizing my potential while writing; I could fight through the fog, but sometimes I think "what's the point?"

Well, the point is that I'm probably going to have to go through and punch up even the stuff that I think is "the best" in the book so far, so why not just keep going, why not get that extra 1,000 pages? It's still a problem that I'm wrestling with upstairs, but I thought I'd get it out there so that you all don't think that writing a book is all bread and roses.

I think more than anything else, overcoming the fog has to do with being able to push it back, be it through better mental endurance, or better break time management, or some other technique that I'm not yet privy to.

I will say this; I have been able to slowly, steadily, push back the onset of the fog somewhat, by maybe a thousand words or so a day.  That certainly helps; 5,000 extra words a week actually helps a lot.  But I do recognize the necessity of pushing it back much, much further, especially if I ever want to be able to get to my goal of easily turning in 5,000 words per day, and then even more beyond that.  And how will I get there?  Writing more, practicing more, working even harder; those are really the only ways that I know to get better at something.  The brain gets better when challenged and worked, just like muscle.  I just have to keep pushing it and condition it to go the extra 500 words, then 1,000 words, and then beyond, until I'm comfortably at the level that I want to be at.

Until then? I'm just going to shut up, keep my head down, and write.

Days: 17
Words: 43,467
Pages: 149 1/2

D.J. Gelner covers the Rams beat for insideSTL.com, and is an aspiring author.  Follow him on twitter (@djgelner) or facebook (here).  E-mail him at djssuperblog@gmail.com.  You can also listen to his podcast (Bottle and Cans) here.

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